Saturday, Aug 24, 2019
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The bumptious Clint Watson

Dear Editor,

The gullibility of some people in positions of influence can be nauseating at times.

The latest victim to fall under the wheels of the self-delusion honey wagon is the sententious gumshoe masquerading as a spinmeister on television’s Eyewitness News – the rambunctious Clint Watson.

The newest thing to take up residence in his craw is a story so outlandish that even the blathering Watson should have passed on it.

Journalists know instinctively to avoid sensationalism. But editorial bias never stopped him before and was dispensed with when recently he dove into the pit of yellow journalism head-first.

The latest juicy bit of sip-sip making the rounds on social media allegedly concerns the estate of a man who died before settling an inheritance so large as to cause the richest man in the world, American Jeff Bezos to blush.

Over 20 years ago, Derek Rolle, a man of less-than-modest means, claimed to have been gifted with billions of dollars by an extremely generous American couple.

This apparently sprouted a deep sense of philanthropic responsibility in the late Rolle. To show his gratitude, he allegedly offered to pay the bills of anyone who asks – provided they pay him a modest fee of $60 for the privilege of having him do them a favor.

The police were amongst those who smelled a rat, and Rolle was invited to assist the fraud squad with their investigations. That was supposed to have been the end of his 15 minutes of infamy.

But thanks to social media, his 15 minutes are being stretched, and not has only the claim of the size of his inheritance grown by eye-popping ratios but it is now claimed to be worth more than the combined GDP of Kuwait and Kenya.

This should have produced nothing more than peals of laughter, but instead it continues to produce hot air. It was even addressed in Parliament with the minister of finance, Peter Turnquest, denying a family claim that the government was complicit with banks, the court and lawyers to deny them their inherited wealth.

In what could only be described as a clutch for another 15 minutes of his own infamy, Centreville MP Reece Chipman dived headfirst onto the conspiracy honey wagon.

He wanted Parliament to appoint a select committee to look under every rock, nook and cranny in search of the missing inheritance. Naturally, the obstinate Chipman didn’t back down and apologize when the minister of finance labeled the whole thing a hoax and threatened to sue to thy kingdom come anyone who slanders the good name of Chipman’s own government.

That should have ended the matter, but the occasion was simply too sensational for the bumptious, syntax-challenged Watson to ignore.

He saddled up on his high-horse, dousing the Rolle family conspiracy flames with the kerosene of innuendo, hype and misinformation.

In his own mind, Watson perceives himself to be a modern-day devil’s advocate, asking penetrating questions that our inquiring minds want answers to.

He has apparently studied the moves of American shock-jock news presenters with soundtrack and spinning graphics to boot. His opening salvo has him looking provocatively into camera one to drop his first salacious charge. He then pivots to gaze into camera two to drop his second, unsubstantiated stick of sensational dynamite.

How the matter of Derek Rolle rose to the level of national news, Watson never bothered to explain. But he never does. Whether debating the death penalty specifically, or the justice system in general, he never misses an opportunity to preach or pontificate on complex matters that often cannot be reduced to a soundbite.

Watson laid spurious documents in front of his audience, which should have been rejected out of hand by the lawyer, Romona Farquharson, whom he invited on the show as if to give a whiff of legal authenticity.

Counsellor Farquharson started out rubber-stamping his outlandish claims then quickly realized that her own legal reputation was on trial so she backpedaled and tried to inject judicious temperament to the conclusions Watson was drawing.

There was the claim of a check for $4 million from an account supposedly controlled by Rolle. He presented no evidence that the check was successfully negotiated. Then there was the anonymous caller who said he saw on a bank teller’s screen that $25 million had been deposited to his account, but the next day it vanished.

There were letters to banks and to the Central Bank and polite replies that confirmed or denied nothing. There was even a letter from a private attorney who is now a Cabinet minister.

Watson wondered aloud why that minister never responded directly to the issue on the floor of Parliament.

Watson should acquaint himself with some very old legal concepts. Such as attorney-client privilege, which prevented the minister from speaking out. Or the difference between circumstantial evidence (which he seems to be full of), and direct evidence which someone gives under penalty of perjury.

He tried and failed spectacularly to present a prima facie case that someone was holding onto a pot of money so large that it would represent 25 percent of all the money in all of the banks of The Bahamas, including the offshore ones that hold the bulk of it.

Watson could do well to learn that just because a juicy tidbit goes viral on social media, doesn’t make it true or even newsworthy.

Besides, $70 billion is almost as big his ego.

– The Graduate

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